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The Swastika: Symbol Beyond Redemption? Paperback – March 4, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Allworth Press; 1 edition (March 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581155077
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581155075
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,479,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA-Heller does a laudable job of providing the pre-20th-century history, the Nazi-associated infamy, and the punk-era appropriation of this graphical image. The clear, comprehensive, and cogent narrative is illustrated with abundant prints that range from symbol dictionaries and propaganda posters to photos of architecture and textile designs. The author brings into stark illumination how thoroughly the emblem has come to embody Nazi ideology and how its meaning has been changed for, seemingly, all subsequent generations. This is a book that is accessible in language and content to most readers, yet it will force even the most sophisticated to rethink and rework their ideas of how images work in the world. A valuable purchase for school and public libraries, as well as for art and design collections.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Steven Heller is co-chair of the MFA Design: Designer as Author+Entrepreneur program at New York's School of Visual Arts. He is the author, editor and co-editor of more than one hundred books on design and popular culture.

More About the Author

Steven Heller, author and editor of over 130 books on graphic design, satiric art and popular culture, is the co-founder and co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author program at the School of Visual Arts, New York. He is also co-founder of the MFA in Design Criticism, MFA in Interaction Design, MFA Social Documentary Film and MPS Branding programs. Although he does not hold an undergraduate or graduate degree he has devoted much of his career to fostering design education venues, opportunities and environments.

On the editorial side, for over 40 years he has been an art director for various underground and mainstream periodicals. For 33 years he was an art director at the New York Times (28 of them as senior art director New York Times Book Review). He currently writes the "Visuals" column for the Book Review and "Graphic Content" for the T-Style/The Moment blog (http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/author/steven-heller/). He is editor of AIGA VOICE: Online Journal of Design, a contributing editor to Print, EYE, and Baseline, and a frequent contributor to Metropolis and ID magazines. He contributes regularly to Design Observer and writes the DAILY HELLER blog for Print Magazine (http://blog.printmag.com/dailyheller/). His 135 books include "Design Literacy, " "Paul Rand," "Graphic Style" (with Seymour Chwast), "Stylepedia" (with Louise Fili), "The Design Entrepreneur" and "Design School Confidential" (both with Lita Talarico), "Iron Fists: Branding the Twentieth Century Totalitarian State", and the most recent, "Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig."

He is the recipient of the 1999 AIGA Medal for Lifetime Achievement. His website is www.hellerbooks.com and his blog, The Daily Heller sponsored by Print magazine is http://imprint.printmag.com/daily-heller/

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By lordhoot on March 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
In a relatively a short book, less then 160 pages, the author Stephen Heller managed to recount the history and usages of this notorious symbol used by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party. The book is filled of illustrations showing how this symbol were used by many cultures from many lands across the face of this planet thousands of years prior to Hitler's Third Reich. Hitler's claims that swastika is a pure "Aryan" symbol mocked his own understanding of this symbol. It pretty clear by author's assertions that swastika have been used by many for various purposes. Some of the most interesting aspects the author brought up was that swastika was the symbol the Girl's Club in the United States during the early of the 20th century and each of their magazine covers had swastika all over it.

Although the author touched on the Asian usage of the swastika, he fell little short regarding the Asian elements of the swastika and its meanings. When my father was stationed in Japan, I had a chance to see many swastikas on Japanese temples and surprised to see swastikas adopted into some of the Japanese samurai families' mon (family crest) during that era of history. One of the more funnier things I have seen was reading a Japanese map and seeing all these red swastikas on the map - each of them showing the location of a temple or a shrine. One of my friends who didn't know any better asked once if that map is showing where all the Nazis live in this area.

The author also wrote some interesting stuff on whether this symbol can ever be save from how we see it today, symbol of evil, racism and hate.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Abraytis on September 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Here's three good things about this book.

First, the 157 pages of text provide a comprehensive overview of the history of the you-know-what-symbol. The swastika. There's a lot of interesting revelations. For example, the swastika appears to be the oldest symbol uncovered anywhere, and is found in just about every culture and civilization, everywhere and at any time in History. I mean, it was everywhere!

Second, the book provides dozens of reproductions of the swastika, in a myriad of variants, including on cigar labels, poker chips, cards, as a shoulder patch for the U.S. Army (1918), and on a monthly American magazine for young girls, entitled: "The Swastika: Written, Issued and Read by The Girl's Club."

Finally, the author is a graphic designer, and a darn good one. The book itself--the size, the color, the paper, the setting of the text, the brilliant and varied reproductions--these all delighted me, and I hope they delight you.

Not only that, consider that the bookjacket has to be one of the most extreme, hardcore bookcovers in history. The cover shows a black swastika, on a white circle, on a red background. One glance at it, and you'll know why the swastika is the most powerful symbol ever created. Forever sinister, the swastika today is the only symbol that you can write with a pen on the border of the daily paper, that has acquired the status of "genetically evil." Those scribblings on the notepad--they will never be redeemed! Hollywood is calling.

Take a peek.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Porecka on January 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Nazis took a symbol with a thousand year history, which they really just ruined for the world. The swastika was used by Native Americans, Nordic Peoples, Polish Mountain Dwellers and Hindus, to name just a few. Only the Hindus use it freely nowadays. This book shows the history of the stolen symbol, from the ancient times to usage in pre-Hitler commercials for products so well known as Coca-Cola. Many of the usages are shown, including types of swastikas found in each region of the world. The book does not concentrate on Nazi usage as many do, though illustrations for that time are also plentiful. It's not long so it really isn't a study book, but it does make an interesting read.
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By Tabitha Rittenhouse on July 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book so much. I am a Buddhist, myself...and I wish that I didn't get ridiculed so much for wearing the swastika...but sadly enough, people are going to be ignorant. All it takes is a few moments to open up a book and figure out where the symbol came from and what it really meant.
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